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Showing posts from December, 2015

Gibraltar - Stepping into British Territory

The train service between Ronda and Algeciras is limited. In Algeciras we took the bus to Gibraltar. We knew we had a tight window for sightseeing so we could make it back to Algeciras in time to catch the last train to Ronda. And the rain didn't help at all. But we managed.
The approach to La Línea de la Concepción on the Spanish side of the peninsula gave us the best glimpse of the 426 meter high limestone rock towering behind the beach and harbor. The Rock was a spectacular sight to behold!
We waited for an EasyJet flight to take off before the security barricade was lifted and we could safely cross the runway to get to the city center. Cars, buses, trucks and people moved quickly across the tarmac. In the distance we could see a lot of new construction. Gibraltar's area size is only 2.6 square miles but it's home to some 32,000 people. It's pretty crowded.
This is an active runway and as it is open to the sea on both ends, it acts like a wind tunnel. With intermit…

Something I look forward to

For several years now, on the 26th of December, I've taken a photo from my front door of the sunrise. Today there was not much to see as the fog was so thick. It wasn't until an hour after the "scheduled" sunrise when the sun finally broke through the fog to light up our day. So nice after several days of rain. We need rain though after 3 years of drought. Grateful for these blessings.
“One grateful thought is a ray of sunshine.  A hundred such thoughts paint a sunrise.  A thousand will rival the glaring sky at noonday - for gratitude is light against the darkness.”  Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway, quotes, Verse & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year  ***** Image by TravelswithCharie

San Lorenzo de El Escorial

It's been ages since my first visit to the monastery of El Escorial. What impressed me most then were the long corridors and one particular door with a low clearing so you would have to stoop so low to pass through. Or else.....
I was delighted to discover that I could go to San Lorenzo de El Escorial by taking one of the suburban trains from Chamartin. And the trip took less than an hour and costs 8.10€ roundtrip. So I took off one sunny afternoon to rediscover this old town. What struck me as we approached El Escorial were the spectacular mountains which dominated the landscape. Little did I realize that when I opted to walk to the monastery that I would be climbing up a thousand meters to the foot of Mount Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama. So I panted uphill all the while thinking, will I ever get there? I found out later on that I took the roundabout way along Avenida de Los Reyes Catolicos but what the heck. It was a good exercise which I badly needed after the overindulg…

Cerralbo Museum

The Cerralbo Museum is a museum palace which belonged to Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo (1845-1922). He was an avid collector of art and antiques which he obtained from his travels and from art auctions in Europe. His acquisitions include paintings, sculptures, drawings, tapestries, ceramics, historical documents, books, photography, objets d'art and furniture. It was one of the finest collections of its time. The palace of the Marquis was built to be both a residence and a gallery.
The armoury was the receiving area of this aristocratic residence. The Marquis and his Marquess, Inocencia Serrano y Cerver, greeted their guests in this hall where the suit of armor belonging to the illustrious ancestor of the Marquis, Pablo Fernandez Contreras, the first Earl of Alcudía, (who was the Admiral of the Spanish Squad that defeated the Dutch fleet in 1635) is on display. The Marquis of Cerralbo also inherited the title of Earl of Alcudía.
The formal dining room…

Chinchón, Spain

The charming town of Chinchón is a quick bus ride from Madrid's Conde de Casal bus station through green countryside and somnolent little villages. For most of the passengers in the bus, it was a time to doze off after a busy morning of shopping and doctor's appointments in Madrid. But that was rudely interrupted when a race car driver in a black sedan cut in front of our bus with two feet to spare and the bus driver had to brake quite forcefully waking up the weary from their siesta. Then everyone started to talk at once about our close call and my once aloof seatmate who had gone to dream world after finishing her pastry, started to converse with me. She later volunteered to show me the way to the Plaza Mayor (which is also close to where she lives) and we had a pleasant conversation as we slowly climbed uphill to the square.


The Plaza Mayor of Chinchón is a 15th century square surrounded by white washed three storey buildings with wooden balconies called claros. The square…